Vin Scully and My Take on Baseball and Life

Vin Scully

If you’re not a baseball fan, or if you’re not familiar with Vin Scully, just think about the impact of nostalgia on your life and the importance of relationships in it. I wrote about legendary Dodger baseball announcer Vin Scully in my latest Federalist piece, not because I know much about baseball.  I don’t really. But he is now in his 65th year announcing for the Dodgers, and I believe his story says something big about how our lives intersect with so many others.  If you read my essay “Vin Scully and the Soul of the Crowd,”  you may well connect with what Scully says he felt as a child listening to “the roar of the crowd” on the radio:

His fascination with the “roar of the crowd” represents something I think we all want and which is unattainable on earth: the chance to converse with all of humanity at the same time. It represents a desire to be in community—or in communion—with others. It’s like being in a grand conversation in which no one can predict what will happen next. A community like that is held together through mutual respect and the anticipation of joy.

This is a feeling that I think reflects in part what C.S. Lewis meant in his essay “The Weight of Glory,” a universal human longing to “bathe” in a glory we can hardly put into words. Lewis notes that we often mistake this for a sense of “nostalgia,” but it’s so much more than that.

Nostalgia can overwhelm us with a sense of wistfulness.  When that feeling takes hold, we find ourselves looking back with longing, hoping to find something “close to home,” something permanent to hold on to.  Nostalgia is triggered by any one of our senses. The sight of a memento, the sound of a voice, the touch of a fabric, a frangrance, a taste.  It comes to us as a  reminder that we feel lost in time and we ache for a sense of connection in relationships with others through all of space and time.

The sound of Scully’s voice brings back memories of my father listening to his beloved Dodger games.  It brings back echoes of my childhood  — as it does for so many baseball fans who grew up hearing Scully call the plays while telling us stories. The idea of his career ending brings us sorrow.  We’ll miss him.  And the feeling is mutual.  In his words, “It’s the relationships I’ll miss most.”

 

“The Wave” and the Cult Mindset

Human beings — especially Americans these days — don’t seem to understand how susceptible we are to group think.   A cult mindset can be very contagious if it is left unchecked.  Cults grow where people feel a sense of isolation, when they don’t ask hard questions, and when they are weak on discernment.  Below is a short movie called “The Wave.”  It’s based on actual events at a high school during the 1960’s.  It started with a teacher-supervised class experiment in group think, but it took on an ominous life of its own.

If you want to delve into the background, click here to look over the website www.thewavehome.com which was put together by the original participants. Here is an excerpt from the website:

In spring 1967, in Palo Alto, California, history teacher Ron Jones conducted an experiment with his class of 15-year-olds to sample the experience of the attraction and rise of the Nazis in Germany before World War II.  In a matter of days the experiment began to get out of control, as those attracted to the movement became aggressive zealots and the rigid rules invited confusion and chaos.  This story has attracted considerable attention over the years through films, books, plays and musicals, and verges on urban legend.  It serves as a teaching tool, to facilitate discussion of those uncomfortable topics of history, human nature, psychology, group behavior, intolerance and hate.

As an aside, I don’t want anyone to get too put off when they discover that Norman Lear produced this 1981 TV movie.  That’s fascinating, of course, because Lear is about as far left/statist as one can get in Hollywood.  And yet “The Wave” is an important story with urgent lessons for all of us. There seems to be a pattern among those who claimed to fight for independent thought in earlier eras, but who push political correctness so hard today. One can only wonder if the hijacking of stories and images warning against totalitarianism serve only to promote their power agendas of today.

It’s a Shame we Would Ask: “Do Fathers Matter?”

 

    A recent article in Real Clear Policy asks:  “Have Fathers Become Irrelevant?”   The author, Robert VerBruggen, explores the literature and the “science” for answers. The article is basically a review of a book entitled Do Fathers Matter? What Science is Telling us about the Parent we’ve Overlooked by  Paul Raeburn.

Overlooked.  Wow.  I wonder if the researchers have asked children if they’ve “overlooked” their fathers?

Anyway, Raeburn makes the case that fathers do indeed matter. And of course that’s a very good thing.  But what I find amazing in all of this is that anyone would have to make such a case so strenuously.  Considering the misery and sorrow that so many children go through in the absence of a father, it’s stupefying that anyone would even dare challenge the right of a child to a relationship with their father. But Raeburn enters the debate providing all manner of scientific data to try to prove the point — to which he adds the role of genes and hormones and so forth.

What I want to know is why do we tolerate — much less feel we have to jump through a thousand hoops — the challenge of such a question as “Do fathers matter?”  VerBruggen’s review of Raeburn’s book — and the premise of the book itself — are most illuminating to me because they provide insights into how little researchers and scholars seem to care about the father-child relationship.  All of this focus on “outcomes,” such as graduation rates, employment statistics, etc. is BOGUS.  It has nothing to do with the value of the relationship.  A good child-father relationship has a value beyond measure.  Not just for the happiness of the child, but for everyone as the child broadcasts that sense of stability into society and other relationships.

VerBruggen begins with the dismal statistics:

The two-parent family has been deteriorating for decades: Since 1960, the percentage of American children born out of wedlock has risen from 5 to 41. Though unmarried parents often live togetherwhen the child is born, they are far more likely than married parents to break up — and fathers who don’t live with their kids are much less involved when it comes to parenting.

Does this hurt anyone? [this should be an obvious YES] There is a fairly broad consensus that it does, for the simple reason that children raised by two parents tend to have better outcomes, even after researchers do their best to account for complicating factors like class and race. But there are nagging doubts in some quarters.

“Does this hurt anyone?”  Again, the fact that we can even ask such a question indicates the depths to which we have all sunk as a society.  I’m sure VerBruggen is simply being rhetorical and responding to our current social norms.  But the mere existence of that question, the fact that it can rear its head so casually among us, should give us great pause.  I would think in the eyes of a hurting child, this would stand out as a very callous question indeed.  And we ought to get into the habit of looking at the world through the eyes of a child – rather than through the myopia of social scientists — when it comes to regarding the happiness and well being of children.  Instead of bending over backwards to answer the propaganda, we should find a way to point out that the question itself is nothing but propaganda and innuendo.

Are we Headed to a Future Claiming “All your Children Belong to Us?”

Where are we headed?   Looks like a pretty dystopian future, which should be obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention.   For a preview, remember when MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry told us us we “have to get over our notion that children belong to their parents or their families.” We need a more “collective” idea, she asserted.  Watch here:

Last year I wrote an article about this: “The War on the Family Enters a New Stage,” which you can read by clicking here. 

But moving “forward” Glenn Cook of the Las Vegas Review-Journal offers a fascinating report: “All your children Belong to Us.”  Cook notes what’s going on in Scotland, a push to assign each family an official state guardian.  It’s chilling:

The Scottish government for years has pursued what amounts to state-sponsored surveillance of families. By August 2016 — unless a court or public pressure can stop it — the country will appoint an official state guardian for every child in Scotland. The jobs will be filled by teachers, social workers, health care professionals and the like. The feel-good part of the plan makes every guardian a personal resource to families, available to answer questions. The sinister part of the plan gives those guardians access to a family’s records, and requires them to monitor and report every child’s development and welfare and recommend household changes. Thus, legislation to expand free school meals and subsidized child care becomes the means to create the Family Stasi.

What happens when a family doesn’t return a guardian’s call to check in? What happens when a parent rejects an, ahem, friendly suggestion from said guardian using a few choice curse words? A knock on the door from police and social workers, that’s what.

We all know that destruction of family autonomy has been a top priority of so-called progressives for many years,  centuries, even.  Yet it’s hard to fathom that such an agenda could ever really prevail.

I think we’ve gotten this far on the road to hell for four basic reasons.  First, we can’t fathom that anyone would let it happen, and can’t fathom that anyone would even want it to happen, so many of us simply tune out those agendas as mad ravings. Second, the ground has been softened through the breakdown of families, particularly the absence of fathers, as more people buy into the bait offered by the so-called progressives.  Third,  the side pushing to control our relationships has been unrelenting and very organized. Fourth, all of the above results in a resistance that is weak and disorganized.

The only way around this — and it’s daunting — is to actually build a resistance.  How?  I’m not sure, but I know how it has to start.  It has to start with individuals talking one-on-one to others, as friends — not as adversaries — and expressing what they feel about this.  We can’t allow this sort of group think to sink in.  By openly sharing our concerns about these things to others, we open them up to sensing and see a resistance that they can be a part of.  That’s where it has to begin.  It would also help to have leaders who are real leaders, not peacocks obsessed with their turf.  It requires a lot of adaptability, strength of character, wits, and dedication.

The Tank Man: A Study in Courage

Here’s something to think about on the Fourth of July.  It’s been 25 years since the demonstrations for democracy in Tiananmen Square were brutally suppressed by the communist government of China.  Take a look at the astonishing video below of one of those protesters, widely known as the “Tank Man.”

 If you’ve never seen the footage before, it will captivate you.  If you’re like most and have seen it before, the Fourth of July is a good time to watch it again. The identity and fate of the Tank Man is not known.  But he showed us something magnificent: that real courage  scares the living daylights out of tyrants.  Especially if there are witnesses, but even if there aren’t.  

A tiny power elite — in this case, the dozen of so members of inner inner circle of the Chinese government — just can’t deal with it when a member of the masses defies them by speaking or acting without their permission.   And I’m not even talking about what the Tank Man did, but what he confronted:  a column of tanks sent in to shut people up.  That’s why all tyrants fight self-expression so much.  First they have to separate us and get control over our relationships, usually through emotional blackmail like political correctness.  The point is to socially isolate any dissenter. It causes people to silence what they believe so that few seem to express those beliefs anymore.  Then, once you feel sufficiently alone, the elites make sure there’s no escape from their program.  It’s just like being stuck in a cult.

In fact, of all the first amendment freedoms, it seems totalitarians feel most threatened by freedom of association.   

In the first days of the Tiananmen Square protests, I remember watching some of the students interviewed by Western media and being absolutely astonished as they quoted in English from the Declaration of Independence. My husband and I looked at each other, jaws dropped, after we heard one of the young men say to reporters:  

“We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!”    

It made me cry. What will it take for so many young Americans today to understand the miracle of those words ever being put into law?  Would they understand it only if they had to live with what happened to the Chinese demonstrators:  the massacre, the tanks rolling into them?  (Many were crushed by the tanks.  Literally. This was described to me by one eyewitness I spoke to years later at a wreath laying at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, D.C.)

On a positive note, ponder the ripple effects that just one person can cause.  Not only does the Tank Man live on in the memory of millions, but it seems the 1989 protests in  Tiananmen Square triggered many reforms in China.

I keep Vaclav Havel’s quote in the upper corner of this blog to remind readers of what any one person can do:

“his action went beyond itself because it illuminated its surroundings, and because of the incalculable consequences of that illumination.”

 

The Transgender Movement Redefines the Humanity of Us All

Have you thought about what will happen if we erase all gender distinctions in the law?  That question is the basis of my recent Federalist article linked here:  “How the Trans-Agenda Seeks to Redefine Everyone.”

I hope you’ll think it through too.  Gender Identity is a term that is not meant to apply simply to a minority demographic.  It is a term foisted upon everyone universally. Take a look at the following definition of gender identity, from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:

The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.

It’s a new framing of what it means to be human, and it’s about you whether you like it or not.  Your sex is merely “designated” at birth, according to this legal definition.  The erasure of gender distinctions is also meant to apply to reproductive rights, which means we are not supposed to assume that only women get pregnant.  To understand how such language will change the relationships of the individual to the state, read on.   The implications for state meddling in family and other relationships are vast.  A brief excerpt here:

If we agree to change language to suit the transgender lobby, we ultimately agree to destroy in law the entire basis (sex distinctions) for the only union that can result in autonomously formed families. The implications for privacy and personal relationships are vast, and we need to understand that.

If you think you’ll be able to cultivate and preserve strong personal relationships in this new matrix, you are mistaken. That can’t easily happen in a system in which your familial relationships are not acknowledged or respected by the State. This gender-neutral scheme obliterates the template for the family as a unit. And if the family is no longer accepted as a union that originates through the union of male and female, there is no real basis for the State to recognize any family as an autonomous unit. Without any such obligation, children become more easily classified as state property and our personal relationships are more easily controlled by the state. If that sounds totalitarian, that’s because it is.

 

 

 

 

 

“The Abilene Paradox:” Saying “Yes” when You’d Rather say “No”

The other day we saw how Solomon Asch’s conformity experiments, showed that people will deny what they see with their own eyes when under social pressure.   But what happens if the group pressure is not flatly stated, but only perceived  pressure?  Pretty much the same thing.   Watch the clip below of “The Abilene Paradox,” an organizational  training film based on the book by Jerry B. Harvey, professor of management at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Professor Harvey was trying to figure out why organizations so often ended up making decisions against their own self interest. Click here for a link to his book about this, which is a parable based on his own personal life experience.  His experience was a very uncomfortable family trip 50+ miles away in a hot car in the blazing hot 100+ degree Texan heat just to have supper at a cafeteria in Abilene that no one felt like going to.  The father only made the suggestion because he assumed that’s what everyone else wanted to do. He had no interest himself.  But they, in turn, assumed this was his wish and so all voiced agreement when not a single one of them wanted to go.  You’ll see a couple of other examples in the trailer.  A research and development guy who’s been tasked with “Project X:” making jet fuel out of peanut oil; and a young man and woman at the altar who don’t really want to get married to one another.

So when we do not want to embark on a course of action, why do we so easily agree to do so? And why don’t we at least communicate our disagreement?  Seems we just don’t want to rock the boat. Jerry Harvey’s conclusion is that human beings are always trying to spare themselves the pain of “anaclitic depression” or separation anxiety: Feeling cast out, unwanted, isolated.  It’s as though we’re always in survival mode when these defenses kick in.

The irony is that the human fear of social isolation runs so deep that we will navigate a huge portion of our lives around it and constantly make assumptions — often false — about what other people believe without really knowing.  In fact, you can know someone for years thinking they disagree with your views only to find out later he was on board with you with just about every issue.  But we never know if we don’t talk to people.  Do we?

Instead of acting on our assumptions , we ought to verify those perceptions more often.

The Abilene Paradox is another good lesson about how political correctness uses this human weakness.  By reinforcing this fear of isolation, people are less likely to get to know one another and exchange ideas.  Political correctness promotes this isolation so that open communication doesn’t get in the way of pushing PC agendas, and more folks can be nudged into agreement despite any misgivings they may have.

Watch this Clip on the Asch Conformity Experiment to see Groupthink in Action

Let’s take a clinical look at how group pressure works.  Everyone should know about the Asch conformity experiments.   In the 1950’s social psychologist  Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments on how social pressure could cause people to deny the evidence of their own eyes.  The four-minute clip below is from experiments conducted a couple of decades later.

Notice how group pressure can change how one expresses an opinion, or even a statement of an obvious and simple fact, such as the length of a line!  How about that moment at about 1:45 where all of the confederates (non-subjects) look askance at the subject when he gives a different answer? Then, notice the subject’s concessionary tone at about 2:01 when he later knowingly gives an incorrect answer in order to avoid the discomfort of disagreeing.  Wow!  This is America 2014, isn’t it? This is exactly how political correctness is meant to work: to extract compliance with PC agendas.

The main points to take away from this clip are:

  1. Unanimity of the group is what bears the greatest pressure on a person to express a conforming opinion.
  2. Unanimity can be punctured and one can be emboldened to speak up if someone else speaks up first.
  3.  Access to secret ballot greatly relieves the tyranny of the group.

Watching this reinforces the fact that a secret ballot is essential to preserving freedom of conscience. But unless more of us are willing to express our opinions,  we can’t influence anyone.  We end up instead cultivating a spiral of silence.   This kind of silence quickly erodes our freedom of expression and, with it, our freedom of association. It serves to separate us and isolate us further. Unfortunately, when we are conflicted and confronted by group pressures, the herd instinct for survival — and the utter terror of isolation — definitely seem to kick in for many of us.  So let’s build an awareness of this reality. It’s the first step to resisting groupthink and avoiding the dire consequences of silencing ourselves.

Good Fathers Never Die. They Love Beyond the Grave.

Father’s Day might be behind us for this year, but the impact of fatherhood is always huge, and it runs very deep.  In my latest Federalist essay, I examine the power of the father-child relationship:   “You are Twelve Men:” A Story of Fatherhood.  It’s an account of Francis Bok’s Escape from Slavery.

Imagine — if you can — what it must be like to be a seven-year-old boy who witnesses a massacre, and then is captured by one of the killers to serve as a slave:  In addition to enduring beatings, hunger, and degradation, you are completely isolated from anyone with whom you can talk.  The loneliness enshrouds you.  It goes on this way, with beatings and degradation, for ten solid years.  You are finally able to making a harrowing escape.

In Sudan, from 1986 until 1996, Francis Bok survived this unfathomable assault on his dignity and his childhood. How?  What sustained him and essentially saved him?  Answer: Calling on the memory of his loving parents, especially his father who instilled Francis with strength and trust in God.  Francis’ father would tell him: “You are twelve men!”  In the words of Francis:

“I told myself that I must stay strong. My father would want me to be strong. . . they could not touch my thoughts and dreams. In my mind I was free, and it was there in that freedom that I planned my escape.

‘God is always with you,’ my parents had told me. ‘Even when you are alone, He is with you. . . . When you ask God for what you need, He will help you . . .’ Alone at night sitting in my hut, I remembered that. My father once said to me, ‘Even when you are one, you are two. If you are two, you are three.’

I was really muycharko . . . I began to believe that my father had been right: I was really ‘twelve men.’”

The question we must ask is this:  If a father can have such an impact from the grave on a child so alone and oppressed, how dare anyone devalue fatherhood? 

In fact, this question is not rhetorical, because the answer is real.  It’s in Francis’s own words above:  His father’s love empowered him.   It made him free.  Unfortunately, those who seek to control us see this as a problem, and a threat to their sense of power. So these forces are always trying to separate us from those who truly love us.  How dare they?  We need to stay aware of — and fight —  these constant and insane assaults on our relationships.

 

 

 

A Fascinating Read: “Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism”

Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism” is an amazing article by Brendan O’Neill in the British online magazine Spiked.  It was published over a year ago, but its content is timeless.  I haven’t yet figured out what to make of O’Neill since he seems to have connected himself with the label of Marxism. Perhaps its a “brand” that would draw some unlikely folks in to consider and accept what he writes. Provides some cognitive dissonance, perhaps. I don’t know.  But Marxism is a philosophy so conducive to terror and conformity that I personally don’t think O’Neill should mess with it if he believes what he writes.  “Broadly libertarian” is a more suitable description.  In any event,  “Gay Marriage:  A Case Study in Conformism” is truly worth reading.  It’s passionate and compelling and contains so much truth about the squashing of independent thought. The subtitle reads as follows:

“Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying.”

Indeed, whenever there is a “seismic shift” in public opinion, particularly about a deeply embedded tradition such as marriage, our antennae should go up.   This is even truer when an agenda is pushed and engineered primarily by an elite that has a virtual monopoly on most outlets of communication — the media, Hollywood, academia.  The clincher in identifying a fake, manufactured opinion cascade is to look at the treatment of those who are opposed to the agenda.  To what extent are they allowed to speak freely?  During the period of “debate” have they been allowed to speak without being ostracized or fear losing their livelihood?  Are dissenters allowed to express an opinion without being routinely and summarily smeared and cast out of society?  If the answer to these questions is no, then you certainly have a mass scale push for tyranny on your hands.  All along, the agenda was just a front for a power grab.

Below are two excerpts from O’Neill’s essay, which you can read in full by clicking the link above:

In truth, the extraordinary rise of gay marriage speaks, not to a new spirit of liberty or equality on a par with the civil-rights movements of the 1960s, but rather to the political and moral conformism of our age; to the weirdly judgmental non-judgmentalism of our PC times; to the way in which, in an uncritical era such as ours, ideas can become dogma with alarming ease and speed; to the difficulty of speaking one’s mind or sticking with one’s beliefs at a time when doubt and disagreement are pathologised. Gay marriage brilliantly shows how political narratives are forged these days, and how people are made to accept them. This is a campaign that is elitist in nature, in the sense that, in direct contrast to those civil-rights agitators of old, it came from the top of society down; and it is a campaign which is extremely unforgiving of dissent or disagreement, implicitly, softly demanding acquiescence to its agenda.

With gay marriage turned into ‘a kind of common sense’, opposing it became more difficult, potentially even threatening one’s social and moral standing. The ‘common sense’ of gay marriage has been turned into something like a dogma of gay marriage, in a very subtle way. So the very act of debating gay marriage has been implicitly demonised, since in the words of one observer, ‘The fact that there is a debate over whether to deny a group of people their civil rights is unacceptable’. Here, through further linking gay marriage to the old civil-rights movement, even discussion itself can be branded ‘unacceptable’.